The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is joining agencies across the world in recognizing Thursday, July 30, 2020, as World Day Against Human Trafficking in Persons. This year’s focus is on the first responders fighting human trafficking on the front lines.

Many victims of this ever-increasing crime are transported in commercial motor vehicles across the country and are not in one place long enough to form social connections. With several cross-country interstate routes located in Mississippi, MDOT’s Office of Enforcement plays a vital role in combating human trafficking, and its officers are often the first people on the scene. All MDOT officers are trained on how to identify and police human trafficking on state highways and at weigh stations.

“During the COVID-19 crisis, the essential role of first responders has become even more important,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT Executive Director. “This is a crime MDOT’s Office of Enforcement is heavily focused on. Earlier this year, our officers participated in a multi-day, multi-agency training on how to identify and recover victims of human trafficking.”

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, in 2019, 146 cases of some form of human trafficking were reported in Mississippi with an alarming 11,500 cases reported nationwide. This is an increase from 86 cases reported in Mississippi and 10,915 cases reported nationwide the previous year.

One reason for the uptick in reported cases can be attributed to public knowledge of the issue. Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking. The public can report information about a potential trafficking situation by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888.

Knowing the indicators of human trafficking can help the public identify a potential human trafficking situation. These include:

  • Living with employer
  • Multiple people in crammed living spaces
  • Inability to speak to an individual alone
  • Employer holding identity documents
  • Signs of physical abuse
  • Submissive or fearful
  • Poor living conditions

Anonymous tips can also be submitted online at www.humantraffickinghotline.org or by emailing [email protected]org. Participate in the discussion on social media by using the hashtag #EndHumanTrafficking on all digital platforms.

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Release from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.